BCCI counter-affidavit details reservations on Lodha report
The BCCI has expressed strong reservations against the exhaustive recommendations proposed by the Lodha committee and the Indian board will present its views before the Supreme Court during a hearing on Thursday. In a 55-page counter-affidavit submitted in the court on March 1, the BCCI stated that it partially accepted some of the reforms, but had concerns on many of the recommendations presented by the Lodha panel on January 4.
In the previous hearing on the matter, held on February 4, the two-judge bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice Ibrahim Kalifullah had asked the BCCI to let the court know by March 3 if it would implement the recommendations. Justice Thakur also told the BCCI counsel: "If you have any difficulty in implementing it we will have the Lodha committee implement it for you."
The BCCI in its affidavit has stated that it has already implemented some of the recommendations such as appointing an ombudsman, putting in place rules on conflict of interest, and releasing advertisements to appoint a chief executive officer, a chief financial officer and other top management positions.
At the same time, the BCCI has listed more than a handful of recommendations that it does not agree with. Ever since the Lodha report became public, the BCCI and its units - the state associations - have been trying to figure out their response to the report.
BCCI office-bearers and most of the major state associations, some of whom have filed their own counter-affidavits separately, have taken strong exception to recommendations like 'one state one vote', an age cap of 70 years for an office-bearer or a board official, and a limit on the tenure for an office bearer to a maximum of three terms of nine years each across positions.
The other major recommendation that the BCCI is staunchly opposing is the limiting of advertisements during Tests and ODIs. The Lodha committee had pointed out that the broadcaster, in an attempt to maximise revenues, inserted ads at "crucial" parts of a match telecast, causing a disruption to the viewer.
The report stated: "Commerce has also overtaken the enjoyment of the sport, with advertisements continuing many a time, even after the first ball and again commencing even before the last ball of the over is played, thereby interrupting the full and proper broadcast of the game.
"It is recommended that all existing contracts for international Test & One-Day matches be revised and new ones ensure that only breaks taken by both teams for drinks, lunch and tea will permit the broadcast to be interrupted with advertisements, as is the practice internationally. Also, the entire space of the screen during the broadcast will be dedicated to the display of the game, save for a small sponsor logo or sign."
The BCCI, however, has said that if it failed to display advertisements between overs, it would suffer a "major revenue hit" and consequently the board would not be in a position to conduct any cricketing events as the value of the broadcasting contracts would be significantly devalued.
The BCCI has also pointed out in its affidavit that it is against the recommendation where a nominee picked by a member of the Comptroller & Auditor General of India will be appointed on the proposed, and powerful, apex council. The Lodha committee had proposed a nine-member apex council to replace the existing working committee and look after the governance of the BCCI.
The BCCI is also against the proposal of having two representatives of IPL franchises on the governing gouncil. The board said that it cannot have franchises on the IPL governing council because it is an "inherent conflict of interest."
Despite its reservations about the Lodha committee recommendations, the BCCI has made sure that the contents of the affidavit remained privy only to the top brass: board president Shashank Manohar; secretary Anurag Thakur (the signatory); Ratnakar Shetty (general manager, game development), PS Raman (legal committee chairman) and KK Venugopal, who would be representing the board in the court on Thursday.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo